Number three out of those four Chroma knives I've had for sharpening and reviewing is the, or to be more precise and honest, "so called Japanese vegetable knife". I say so called because, despite my considerable Japanese kitchen knives collection, and really long and detailed research into Japanese kitchen knives types and styles, I can't really place this knife into anything Japanese by its looks, forget about the steel, hardness, edge and other aspects, which would be really important to classify this knife as something equal or similar to Japanese. Anyhow, I did what I had to do, sharpened the knife, which was no joy as before, with other Chroma knives and then did minimal testing to get the feel. Like I said many times, I hate writing negative reviews, especially because bad knives are no fun to use. I had more experience in using and sharpening Chroma knives, so things were easier this time, but can't say I value that experience real high. Just another difficult to sharpen (because of being too soft) and use knife.
General- Because I got the knife in used condition I can not comment on what it was new in the box. I doubt it matters though, given its performance(or lack thereof). As I got the knife, the edge was a mess. Can't blame it squarely on the owner, the steel is too soft and even I had troubles keeping it straight, even though I routinely use 3°-5° angles per side in the kitchen. Multiple chips and rolls were present all over the edge. I don't think they were real chips though, steel it too soft and plastic to chip. Most likely, as it happens with softer steel blades, the roll forms, then it gets rolled to different side, or straightened out, the process repeats and eventually metal fatigue sets in, the rolled section simply breaks away. This process happens in majority of the knives, can't single out Chroma here, but the extent was much higher even compared to average German kitchen cutlery. As far as I understand, this Chroma knife has been used in home kitchen with no great success, and at some point set aside, because of being too dull. Overall, I'd classify it as a medium size kitchen knife. Weight, 209.00g(7.07oz) for its size is more than you'd expect, but considering Chroma Japanese vegetable knife's all metal construction, that's hardly a surprise. Like I said, I can't really relate the design of this knife, at least its blade geometry to any of the Japanese kitchen knives I've cataloged in the database, quite generic blade, and the handle which is also nothing Japanese, but quite unique, although it's the same handle design for all of the Chroma Porsche design knives.
Blade- The blade of the P03 Japanese Kitchen Knife is 160.00mm(6.3") long and 36mm wide at the heel. Thickness measured at the heel, using digital calipers was 2.60mm, can't call it too thick, but for a 6 incher knife, that's not thin either, granted this is a "vegetable" knife, not a combat knife. The blade is rather wide, relative to its length that is. Blade geometry is quite typical drop point style. Given the length and the width of the blade, the edge line is one continuous curve, there isn't a straight section on it. The P03 vegetable knife originally had a standard V grind edge. Judging form the reminders, it was more obtuse than 20° per side. No surprise there either, steel is too soft to sustain anything thin. To be honest, I have no clue why this was designated as a vegetable knife by Chroma or whoever designed it. It's neither Nakiri nor Santoku, more like a short western chef's knife, which works fine for veggies, but so does for generic food prep.
Steel- I have to admit, initial info on steel being AISI 301 stainless steel was incorrect. I was contacted by Chroma representative, who clarified the steel naming issue, it is Type 301, proprietary batch made in Japan, for Chroma Cutlery. Close, but not identical to Chromova 18 steel used in Global Kitchen Knives. That is a whole lot better compared to 301, which isn't a knife steel at all. Unfortunately, back when I was researching 301 steel issue, I've tried to contact Chroma through their website contacts, and never got any response, and in addition to that, info on type 301 being proprietary alloy was not available. Searching for 301 yields AISI 301, and coupled with disappointing results in my own tests and couple other knife enthusiasts, we ended up concluding it was AISI 301. According to the same source, median hardness of Chroma knives is 57HRC. It is rather puzzling why all the issues with sharpening in that case. Anyway, I am expecting a new knife from Chroma, which will be thoroughly retested, so updates will follow.
Handle- Same handle as on all other Chroma's Porsche design knives. No reason to go into details, you can read about it in other Chroma Kitchen knives reviews. As for the particulars of the Chroma Japanese kitchen knife, the handle/blade ratio is pretty goof, the knife doesn't look ugly, as for the handle usefulness, I don't like it, really weird shape for my preferences. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Usage- Well, the knife I had to test was officially the vegetable knife. Considering my test routine, it was a perfect fit, theoretically at least. Ok, let's reverse it, my 20+ vegetable cutting/mincing/shredding test is a perfect fit for testing vegetable knives, theoretically and practically. Unfortunately, Chroma Japanese vegetable knife is not a perfect fir for vegetable cutting, and for that matter, it's not a great choice for any cutting. I've explained reasons above, in the blade section. I've started testing with the blade as sharp as I could get it, 100K finish, mirror polished edge, which frankly was more than the knife deserved. Still, because it was a "vegetable knife" I wanted to have a fair run. Obviously, I had to put 20° per side edge, making really thick, 40° inclusive angle. I'd never do that on any normal kitchen knife, but alas, I already knew 301 steels capabilities, or inability to hold a thin edge, so I've settled for what was minimal realistic angle. First up was very soft mix of the various green leaves, the main danger to the edge was the cutting board itself, which I have to mention is a really good, end grain wood, very edge friendly. After shredding those leaves the edge degradation was minimal, mainly close to the tip where the contact with the board was maximal during all the chopping/shredding. As for the performance, it was so-so, thick edge, rather short blade, none of that helped. Next up, Italian parsley, also soft and edge friendly, but when I was done, the edge slightly degraded at the heel as well. Pretty much same conclusions as with previous test, but considering that parsley bunch was smaller than the pile of the leaves, the blade length didn't play such an important role, it was almost enough. Still, longer blade would've worked better, especially in long term, because I wouldn't have to raise my elbow so high. After that came about 3lbs of Brussels sprouts. Pretty harsh stuff compared to other veggies, and as I was expecting it, they did kill the edge by the time I was done. So much for the full scale test. After that there was no point in cutting all of the vegetables with Chroma knife, it'd be rather futile attempt. I've stopped for a thick edge restoration session, which was not too complicated, due to the soft steel, but I've used 1200 grit stone to restore the edge, no mood for another high polish edge.
The rest of the testing was just cutting a few sampled for each vegetable to test how well the knife worked, how comfortable it felt, etc. The rest of the vegetables were processed using real Japanese kitchen knife ;) Anyway, going back to the knife. The list of the reminding vegetables included bell pepper, red radish, basil, cucumber, tomatoes, asparagus, eggplant, celery, avocado(not exactly a veggie, but works well for a salad) and a few other things. Can't say I was excited by knife performance for either of those. For anything large, curved, short blade doesn't work well, similar length nakiri is better because of the straight long edge, and much longer gyutos do better job because they are well, longer. All in all, there isn't much to add to what I already said above.
Conclusion- Since this knife in this review was most likely a counterfeit, you should disregard issues with sharpening and edge holding is this review. Genuine Chroma Porsche design knife I've reviewed in Chroma Cutlery Porsche Type 301 P02 Santoku(2014 model) article has shown much better results, exceeding mainstream western knives, performing on par with Global Knives.
- Blade - 160.00mm(6.3")
- Thickness - 2.60mm
- Width - 36.00mm
- OAL - 297.00mm(11.69")
- Steel - Type 301 56-58HRC
- Handle - Stainless Steel
- Weight - 209.00g(7.07oz)
- Acquired - 06/2007 Price - 94.00$
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Last updated - 12/07/14